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Pierce County Beekeeping Association Board Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

Meeting Time: 6:33 pm to 9:26 pm


Those in attendance include: Mary Dempsey, Kathleen Clerc, Katie Marler, Jillian Selcer, Nathan Chambers, SR Balukoff, Natasha Balukoff


~ Meeting opened at 6:33 pm by Natasha, seconded by Nathan


Minutes from Last Meeting: 

~ Mary shared an overview of the last meeting minutes, catching people up. Discussion turned to the Honey Princess. Her visit was one of the orders of business last meeting. Having the Honey Princess went well. Mary let us know we can host the Honey Princess anytime, though we need to find ways for more publicity next time. 


~ Kathleen thanked Mary for all her hard work at the fair. Mary thanked everyone for pitching in. The club had 63 shifts covered. 


~ Katie motioned to approve the last meeting’s minutes. Mary seconded. Vote was unanimous. Minutes approved.


State Fair:

~ Kathleen still has honey from the fair that wasn’t claimed. The fair, after the theft incident, handed what was left to her. Unfortunately, the honey is labeled with numbers and the fair claimed that they didn't have the records to be able to match numbers to owners.


~ After the theft, Mary said that the locks for the cases need to be replaced. The board voted unanimously to replace them. There was a discussion about putting simple magnet alarms on the cases. 


Holiday Party: 

~ The holiday party will be held at December’s meeting on Monday the 4th. It will be a potluck with sides and dessert, with the meat being provided by the club, with Jeannie’s generous help. Jeannie asked for a budget of $300 for the party. The board held a vote for the budget.  Carried unanimously.


Apiary Update:

~ Kathleen and Katie have been caring for the apiaries. All hives have received screened bottom boards. 

~ We are down to 7 hives in the apiary. Hives 3 and 4 were small and struggling with inadequate brood. Hive number 8 was small with a strong laying queen. Hive number 8 was not able to defend their stores as they grew. Hive number 4 was requeened and is doing well. They took Hive 8 and combined it with Hive 3 after removing the deficient queen. Now Hive 3 is doing well. 


~ Fondant was purchased so the hives can be fed over winter. The club purchased 40 patties for $160.  Each hive received 3 patties of fondant. 


~ All the hives have quilt boxes with wool in them. Wool was donated by the Albrechts.


~ OAV treatments are being performed on all hives, including the learning apiary and the queen rearing apiary. There is only one hive that is a concern. The hives are on a 5 day treatment cycle. The 4th treatment is done. We will continue another 5 day cycle until the mite drops lesson and the mites seem under control. Kathleen said she could use some help with that. SR volunteered himself and Natasha for being able to help out. 


~Queen rearing apiary is doing well. The hive nearest the road is super heavy.The hive on the other end is good. The 2nd, or middle, hive seems to absconded. It could possibly have been because of moisture that was gathering on the bottom board because the hive wasn't angled enough.


~ Katie asked if we may want to wrap the hives for wind protection.  Mary asked about using hay bales as a way to block the wind. It was thought that hay bales may encourage mice and other critters. Katie suggested using the silver bubble wrap. Kathleen said she has tried that and had moisture problems. SR explained that he used pink board insulation to wrap the 3 sides of the hive that doesn't face the sun and the ratchets we have on the apiary hives could help hold it on. Kathleen says she has used Gorilla tape to close the seams of the hives to block wind from getting in. There will be more discussion on this later after more research and they can decide on Friday. 


~ There needs to be an announcement at the next meeting calling for volunteers to lay ground cover in the teaching apiary. 


Pollinator Land Plans Update: 

~ There are two areas of land on the WSU Extension that have been provided to us with a rental fee of $250 per year for a Pollinator Garden.  One is near the apiary and the other is near the road off of Pioneer. Mary Kline had the soil tested from both sites and it has been found to be unsuitable. The area near the learning apiary is near a wetland and the other area has soil that is ‘too sandy’. This is the land that is covered in the contract. Mary suggested we speak to Todd to find out what exactly is covered in the contract since the contract was made with a previous president and a previous board.


~ There was discussion about this new information and what to do with the land now. We are not a gardening club and we don't have the manpower resources or the money to throw at the problem. There was a suggestion that we could talk to the Master Gardener people but it was revealed that the Master Gardener Program is struggling with manpower as well. There was a suggestion that we could prep the land and put out annual seeds or starts but that only provides a year’s worth of time and the plants wouldn't necessarily be native.There is also a water issue. There is no water out to either site. 


~ The board decided to table this project for now. Mary stated that the lease is a year to year contract and we are paid up for now and will maintain control over the land. It seems possible that we may need to negotiate a new contract with WSU. 


Education Plan:

~ There was discussion about where to go with the beginners students. Katie said some jumped in in the middle of the class but they should be able to go into an apprentice or intermediate class and do fine. Especially using an outline from OSU or/and a WASBA program as an outline.


~ Katie has been working on updating the old slides from the old PCBA apprenticeship level outline, she has updated the information, added new information, and pictures. Katie said we didn't really have a clear outline. She said we badly need a structured syllabus or curriculum that would allow us to be independent from any certain school or program but is still comprehensive enough that our student members are getting a quality education so they can be successful in whatever path they choose for certification. 


~ Mary brought up WASBA’s curriculum and the cost is, as of right now, $50 / student to use their curriculum. This includes learning materials, tests, and book. Though she heard it was going to be going up to $150. Kathleen has just been voted in on WASBA’s board and she said she could find out for sure. 


~ The board agreed it was important that we remain independent. This way we can do whatever is in the best interest of our members and choose who and how education is taught. If we use the WASBA curriculum, Mary says that we have to use someone to teach who has been approved by WASBA.


~ Sustainability students have made requests for labs and more hands-on learning. Queen rearing classes are also a popular request. The board all agreed that meeting these needs was important if we wanted to thrive and not just survive. It was asked if the Sustainability members would be willing to take turns teaching something they are good at. It was revealed that the request didn’t go over so well. 


~ A queen rearing class is possible since we are in the process of setting up a separate apiary for it. Mary found a man up north with a commercial apiary who is willing to teach some people the course. His class is free and is scheduled for the spring. Mary suggested a field trip with some of the sustainability people. They can learn first and then teach the experienced beekeepers. That will give us time to fine tune a class and then, hopefully, next year we can teach everybody else who is interested. Kathleen asked who will be maintaining the Queen rearing apiary. Mary said she already has volunteers lined up. 


~ It was unanimously agreed that Kathleen and Katie would continue to maintain the teaching apiary. They are doing a fantastic job!


~ Mary informed the board that Charity said there was another room with AV equipment that the club could use as a classroom for the apprentice class. There are about 30 students attending the beginners course that can move up. 


~ After much discussion, it is hoped that we could have the more experienced students, such as apprentice and journeymen students, teach the beginners (especially since Katie has the slides ready to go)  and have Katie move up to teach more advanced classes. Katie would like to have an education committee that would meet to hash out a curriculum, using OSU and WASBA as guides, and have a cohesive yearly syllabus or plan. 


~  It was suggested that videos would be nice to use for the beginners. They could watch the videos in their time and then have a class, possibly over Zoom, for discussion and questions. This could be condensed into an 8 week course. 



~ Besides the yearly elections, there will probably need to be a special vote that needs to happen to decide on the results of the meeting with WASBA board members, WSU’s Pollinator Extension Center Coordinator Bri Price, and Mary & Kathleen over the suggestion of using our teaching apiary for WASBA Master Beekeeper students. Kathleen said they could do a presentation, have a discussion to answer questions, and then have a vote to decide if we should remain independent or want to work together. Kathleen suggested that we do not bring it up for a vote until we have all the information we need for members to make an  informed decision.


~ Mary brought up that as our bylaws stand, if our club were to dissolve or be ‘absorbed’ for any reason, the bylaws state that WSU is the beneficiary of our club's monies. She suggested, due to the possible outcome of the aforementioned meeting and possible future dealings, it may not be in our best interest to keep it this way.  It was suggested having a vote to change this bylaw so that if our club ended the monies left would go to charities voted on by the members. Everyone on the board thought that it was a good idea. 


~ At the next meeting it was decided we should ask and get a consensus from the members about what workshops they would like to have so the board could narrow down choices and make plans to offer the workshops over the winter months. Katie and Kathleen said they would do them once a month. 



~ Mary had news on things she has in the works. The first was a non-profit called Building Behind the Walls. They have asked for her to come speak on Mason Bees and their hotels. In exchange for her time and knowledge, they have agreed to build the club a screened bottom long Langstroth Hive. 


~ Mary also mentioned she has found a Grant research and writer who has waived her usual $750 fee to create a Project Planning Toolkit. This will include a list of what grants are available and have a chance of qualifying for, and when we need to apply. Jillian then shared that she used to write grants for nonprofits. Kathleen asked if she would be willing to use her experience to help the club and she said yes! She was also paid $100 for creating a Prospectus. 


~ Waller Grange is interested in having beekeeper speakers and are willing to exchange them for use of their facilities for our activities. They seem to be interested in classes about interest in Beekeeping. 


~ Having a course called ‘So You Want to be a Beekeeper’ is something the board has been discussing. Mary said she plans on offering this course in early spring. It will be a full, one day class. She was thinking the club would charge about $200.


~ Mary asked the Board to vote to give Katie the position of Executive Director of Education for PCBA and make her a full voting board member. The idea was met with enthusiastic attitudes. Mary requested the vote, Kathleen seconded it,  and the vote was unanimous. Congratulations Katie!


~ Motion to adjourn the meeting by Kathleen, seconded by everyone. Meeting closed at 9:26 pm

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